Dr Rosina McAlpine - Opinion Piece

Current trends in parenting advice

Dr Rosina McAlpine

The Festival of Dangerous Ideas held recently at the Sydney Opera House included many interesting local and international speakers discussing a range of controversial topics including: “what can we learn from suicide bombers”; “free-range kids” and “are children worth it?” Having a particular interest in parenting, I attended both parenting talks. I left quite concerned about the current thinking on parenting today.

“America’s worst mom”

I first attended a talk by Lenore Skenazy, dubbed “America’s worst mom” because she let her 9 year old son travel home on the subway on his own with $20, a subway map and change for a pay phone. Lenore shared her “free-range kids” parenting philosophy. While she was very entertaining, her talk centred on sharing exaggerated comical stories about children and parenting as well as ridiculing over-protective ‘helicopter parents’. She did provide some insights into why parents fear for the safety of their children; but unfortunately, I didn’t walk away with many practical parenting ideas.

Speaking with Lenore as she signed my copy of her latest book titled Free-Range Kids she didn’t seem at all like a “bad mom” and her book offers some practical suggestions for parents to help their children become more independent. Nevertheless, I was left with a cartoon image in my mind of children roaming free with chickens on a farm, and feeling quite sure that I need advice on raising a boy not a chicken!

“Are children worth it?”Anne Manne spoke eloquently on the controversial topic “are children worth it?” and asked the audience to consider where we are as a society to even entertain such questions. She discussed research studies which have found that individuals without children generally report they have happier lives than people with children. She went on to talk about inadequate and expensive childcare facilities and how much pressure there is on today’s mothers who need to work, take care of their children as well as their home.

No wonder they report they’re unhappy! In conclusion, Anne pointed out that today’s parents can’t win. Working parents are criticised for not spending enough time with their children and “helicopter parents” are criticised for spending time too much time with their children. I left the talks with two questions. Firstly, how did we end up parenting at the extremes? Secondly, what does it mean to be a parent?

“Parents are really busy, they know they need help with parenting but with the pressures of daily life there is so little time to go to courses and read books. So I’ve done all the hard work and developed the Inspired Children Program which empowers parents to help their children develop key life skills. ” Dr Rosina

30 minutes a week for one year, children can develop over 100 life skills. 

In only 30 minutes a week, children can develop over 100 life skills in just one year. That’s achievable even for the busiest parent.

“Imagine how good you would feel as a parent if, when the time came for your children to venture out into the world, they were confident and well equipped with life skills to lead a happy, productive and meaningful life”.

Dr Rosina